You could say the auto industry is in John Walawender’s blood. He has family connections to the business. He is a regular at car shows and events, including the international Auto Show, Woodward Dream Cruise and Concours d’Elegance. And the junior marketing major just happens to hail from the Detroit, MI area.
So when an opportunity to intern with Chrysler Corporation in Auburn Hill, MI presented itself, he jumped at it. “The innovations in safety, features, performance and efficiency in the auto industry are particularly exciting,” states Walawender.
As a Chrysler Brand intern, Walawender says he will help develop marketing strategies “through understanding customer wants and needs and analyzing the competitive environment.”
When Walawender enrolled at Creighton nearly three years ago, he wasn’t certain business was his vocation. He also considered physical therapy as a potential career path. Creighton allowed him to test the academic waters in both business and the health sciences during his freshman year. Business had a stronger pull.
The entrepreneurial spirit runs deep in Walawender. He established a lawn service in the 7th grade that was so successful he had to trade in his father’s Lawn Boy for industrial-grade equipment by his freshman year in high school.
Internships, he says, have afforded him the opportunity to learn new concepts – about the companies for which he has worked and about himself. Creighton’s proximity to several Fortune 500 companies in Omaha was a draw. “Internships are always a major concern for all business majors, and I was no different,” Walawender says.
To secure this summer’s internship with Chrysler, Walawender took his research “on the road.” He visited a local dealership to pick up literature on Chrysler’s product line. A helpful manager, after learning he was preparing for an internship interview, let him test-drive several cars so he could speak to the features of the new line of automobiles in his interview.
He knew Creighton would prepare him academically for the work force after graduation, but the many networking events and conferences have helped Walawender grow professionally as well. He also contends that spiritual development is just as important, with Creighton making service opportunities readily available to its students. Volunteerism, in fact, was a component of the interview process: “My interviewer asked me about the service I have done in college so far and the role it has played in my formation and development as a Creighton student. I spoke about my participation in the Cortina Program [an academic, service based living-learning community centered on a call to do justice in the greater community].”
Given his passion for cars, Walawender hopes his management team at Chrysler will be pleased with his performance this summer so he will be a contender for a full-time position after he graduates in 2015. “Chrysler is an outstanding company, and I look forward to adding value to the company through my role as an intern.”